What I've Been Reading
Libriomancer by Jim Hines
Fantasy and, I think, pretty much a must-read for all readers and lovers of books. A libriomancer is a magician. If anything has been written, a libriomancer can literally reach into the pages of a book and pull that object out if it will fit through the size of the book. Unfortunately, pretty freaky things can happen. For instance, if someone sticks their hand into, say, Twilight, and gets bit by a vampire, yes, that person gets turned into a vampire. But someone is out causing havoc and the main character Isaac Vainio, a young and restricted libriomancer, must fill his pockets with his favorite SF and fantasy novels and hunt down the source of all the trouble. This book totally rocks and I'm not just saying that because Jim is a fellow sanchinka and we've worked out together sharing big manly bear hugs before flinging each other to the ground and kicking each other in the head.
King's Ransom by Ed McBain
It's good because it's McBain, but it's a lot more dated than many of his books, and the portrayal of women in the book seems horribly dated (late 1950s, I believe). It involves a kidnapping of a kid. The real twist is that instead of kidnapping the rich guy's kid, the kidnappers accidentally kidnap the rich guy's chauffeur's kid. Will he pay the ransom?
Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
Science fiction of the big ol' space opera type, a follow-up to Leviathan Wakes. I liked Caliban's War even better than Leviathan, which is saying a lot. (Despite it's pretty obscure title). Lots of space battles, monsters and politics. It more or less is started by an Earth colony on Ganymede (I think) being apparently attacked by the Mars marine forces, although there's a monster in there getting things going. Highly recommended.
Decider by Dick Francis
One of my favorite Dick Francis novels and there's not even a murder in it. Lee Morris, an architect with 6 kids and a crappy marriage, makes a living turning ruins into homes and businesses. He owns some shares in a racetrack due to a complicated family history and is drawn into the bickering, feuding lives of that family, dragging 5 of his 6 boys along with him.
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
A biography of Teddy that pretty much starts at his birth and runs up to when he became president. Seems like I'd been reading this book forever, but it's a great book. I have some ambivalence about TR as a man, but there's little argument he was larger than life and probably a true Renaissance Man.
Be Like Water: Practical Wisdom from the Martial Arts by Joseph Cardillo
I wasn't terribly impressed. Probably too "buddha-head-ish" for my taste. Some of it was interesting, but the rest, not so much.
The Detachment by Barry Eisler
I've often had problems reading Barry's John Rain novels, not because John Rain, half-Japanese/half-American assassin isn't a great character, or that Barry isn't a great writer - they both are; but because Barry's sort of "literary" and in the past I think he spent a lot of time on somewhat unnecessary description at the price of moving the story along. Not so in this great novel, in which John Rain and his buddy Dox are coerced into hooking up with two other operators to kill a series of U.S. government officials who are supposedly intent on overthrowing the government. My favorite Eisler by far.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
You allow teachers to give students detention by sending the kids out into the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night with Hagrid, who then splits them off into two groups so some of the kids are alone? What are you, nuts?
Fitness Over Forty by Hal Higdon
I got this book cheap. Hal Higdon, who is about 81 or 82, is best known for his books about marathon running such as "On The Run From Dogs And People" which is worth reading whether you're a runner or not. He wrote this book originally in the 1970s then apparently updated it recently and it was sold as an inexpensive e-book. I thought, personally, that it was over-focused on running, that some of the science, especially related to nutrition, was a little dated and not terribly comprehensive. And I'm biased, because I think if you really want to discuss fitness, you need to discuss more than cardiovascular health through aerobic exercise, but need to at least consider flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
The Secret Soldier by Alex Berenson
John Wells, now an ex-CIA agent, is hired by the Saudi King to investigate whether or not a series of attacks in the Middle East are being engineered by other members of the House of Saud. Then the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia is kidnapped and all hell breaks loose. This is a seriously disconcerting book to be reading during the recent events in the Middle East and the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya during the riots. It's also quite enlightening about U.S.-Saudi relations. Highly recommended.